Holy Rule for May 17
Prayers, please, for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the following, for all their loved ones and all who take care of them:
For a young man, father of two, going into drug re-hab program for third time and for his mother who is caring for the children and praying that this time he will begin recovery.
Rod, trapped in a subway and claustrophobic, panic attacks. God is outside time: we can pray for him when he was stuck there.
Br. Paschal, on his feastday. Ad multos annos, many more!
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
January 16, May 17, September 16
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
Whenever any important business has to be done
in the monastery,
let the Abbot call together the whole community
and state the matter to be acted upon.
Then, having heard the brethren's advice,
let him turn the matter over in his own mind
and do what he shall judge to be most expedient.
The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel
is that the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.
Let the brethren give their advice
with all the deference required by humility,
and not presume stubbornly to defend their opinions;
but let the decision rather depend on the Abbot's judgment,
and all submit to whatever he shall decide for their welfare.
However, just as it is proper
for the disciples to obey their master,
so also it is his function
to dispose all things with prudence and justice.
This whole reflection and chapter has many, many applications to
family life. (Except that parents are not elected!) Otherwise, it all is very
appropriate for a family!
We elect our abbots, which may make obedience a bit easier for us
than living under an appointed superior, but we are not a pure
democracy. This is so hard for Americans in particular to learn, let
alone value!! In terms of civil government comparisons, we may not be
an absolute autocracy, but we are far from a constitutionally diluted
monarchy! The abbot has a lot of power In fact, in most cases, he
has, as this chapter indicates, the last word.
St. Benedict was far too wise to leave all power to an elective
community. That would frustrate any abbot's efforts to upgrade the
life of his flock. Monastics tend to resist change, let alone reform.
They'd simply vote him down and be done with it. Communities, like
St. Peter, must sometimes be girded by another and led where they
would not go! Pure democracy would make that impossible.
There is a great reminder in this chapter that either the community
or the abbot can be wrong. That is so important for both to remember.
Indeed, if either forgets that fact, the danger to humility is
extreme and we are nothing if not humble. There is also the lesson
here of mutual respect. Even though the abbot actually has the
authority to ignore the community's suggestions, he is bidden to ask
for input. He is asked to receive it with prudence and justice, neither
terrified by every passing whim of the group nor terrifying them with every
passing whim of his own!
So, if you will, the concept of mutual obedience and fraternal love
and respect is writ large over the whole of this chapter. Letting
anyone have that much power is scary if the group as a whole is not
constrained to virtue, but we are. Sure, the ideal can be failed, we
are human, but the ideal is there and it is under the conditions of
that ideal that so much is entrusted with faith to the abbot.
Though St. Benedict states we should never obey commands against God's law,
every other instance demands our obedience and respect. We may think the
Abbot is wrong and, humanly speaking, he might be, but we can never lose by
obedience. Indeed, quite the reverse: we harm ourselves terribly by obstinately
clinging to our own will and resisting.
Love and prayers,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- +PAXI sent May 17 yesterday by accident. This is May 16th's, to catch up.Prayers, please, for the eternal rest of Fr. Vladimir, 57, history of depression, he committed suicide, and for all his family, parishiners and all who mourn him.Prayers for the eternal rest of Fr. Maurus, OSB, of Pluscarden Abbey, 93. He disappeared taking a walk, nine years ago this month. His body was never found. Prayers for his Community, family and all who mourn him.Prayers for Lisa, who has MERRF. Her gastro system is shutting down and needs a bypass; but because of the disease label, the doctors are not doing anything. Please pray that they not give up on her.Prayers for Martha F., very ill.Lord, help us all as You know
and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent,
praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
January 15, May 16, September 15
Chapter 2: What Kind of Person the Abbess Ought to Be
Above all let her not neglect or undervalue
the welfare of the souls committed to her,
in a greater concern for fleeting, earthly, perishable things;
but let her always bear in mind
that she has undertaken the government of souls
and that she will have to give an account of them.
And if she be tempted to allege a lack of earthly means,
let her remember what is written:
"First seek the kingdom of God and His justice,
and all these things shall be given you besides" (Ps. 33:10).
"Nothing is wanting to those who fear Him."
Let her know, then,
that she who has undertaken the government of souls
must prepare herself to render an account of them.
Whatever number of sisters she knows she has under her care,
she may be sure beyond doubt that on Judgment Day
she will have to give the Lord an account of all these souls,
as well as of her own soul.
Thus the constant apprehension
about her coming examination as shepherd (Ezech. 34)
concerning the sheep entrusted to her,
and her anxiety over the account that must be given for others,
make her careful of her own record.
And while by her admonitions she is helping others to amend,
she herself is cleansed of her faults.
Four times in this portion alone, St. Benedict reminds those in
authority that theirs is a government "of souls." No wonder material
things are not to be put first. Nothing fleeting at all must come
before the souls of those we care for, whether abbess or parent or
teacher or nurse. Our own souls are intricately linked with the
welfare of those we govern or care for or serve. (BTW, ideally, in
St. Benedict's model of authority, all three functions of ruling,
loving and serving are present at all times. Lofty goal that!)
It's easy to forget that this reading covers a lot more than material
things. All things perishable, empty and earthly are included, even if more
detailed coverage is given to the material ones. It is a sad truth
that we often congratulate ourselves for avoiding one fault while falling
headlong into another.
"What would people say?" is a question sometimes necessary, but all
too often it becomes an idol on its own. That's when trouble ensues.
As with material things, there is a certain BALANCED (getting sick of
that word? Welcome to Benedictine values!) concern for appearances
here. We bear a responsibility, as any parent could tell you, for the
material welfare of the bodies those souls we govern run around in,
and we have to be careful of some appearances that would cause
scandal, but there it stops.
The parent or superior who can give an example of courage in the face
of false values to their charges has given an inestimable gift,
indeed. A wise person can contrast the nagging question of "What
would people think?" with "What are they entitled to think? Have we
all not an obligation to think the best of others?"
A parent or superior with a
genuine sense of what is real can make their charges see reality,
too. It is always a gift to see reality, because reality is truth
and Jesus said: "I am the truth." God IS Truth, and every fragment of
truth we garner on this strange, checkered journey of life will make Him
instantly more familiar to us when we meet Him face to face.
Love and prayers,
- +PAXPrayers for Pamela and for the eternal rest of her son, 21, found dead this morning, died in his sleep of unknown causes, and for his grandmother, Louise, his aunt and all his family and all who mourn him.Jah and his village, they need Bibles.Prayers for Sr. Mary Herbert, of St Scholastica Priory, Petersham MA, celebrating 81 years of her profession as a nun. Deo gratias!Prayers for Jan, on the 9th anniversary of her death, and for all who mourn her.Prayers for Brian, on the anniversary of his Oblation.Lord, help us all as You know and will.
God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him!
Thanks so much. JL
January 17, May 18, September 17
Chapter 3: On Calling the Brethren for Counsel
In all things, therefore, let all follow the Rule as guide,
and let no one be so rash as to deviate from it.
Let no one in the monastery follow his own heart's fancy;
and let no one presume to contend with his Abbot
in an insolent way or even outside of the monastery.
But if anyone should presume to do so,
let him undergo the discipline of the Rule.
At the same time,
the Abbot himself should do all things in the fear of God
and in observance of the Rule,
knowing that beyond a doubt
he will have to render an account of all his decisions
to God, the most just Judge.
But if the business to be done in the interests of the monastery
be of lesser importance,
let him take counsel with the seniors only.
It is written,
"Do everything with counsel,
and you will not repent when you have done it" (Eccles. 32:24).
This reading completes the chapter and offers us the capstone to the
grace and beauty of St. Benedict's government. The Abbot "should do
all things in the fear of God." Give just a brief shot at applying
that to all Cardinals, Bishops, and Pastors, as well as parents, bosses
and all the laity. What a different world we would have!
Abbot Charles Mohr of St. Leo used to say: "Keep the Holy Rule and
the Rule will keep you." How true that is! If an Abbot acts in the
fear of God, his community can be united in pride behind him, even
decades later. In 1908, when Florida was still a hotbed of Ku Klux
Klan activity, both racist and anti-Catholic, Abbot Charles accepted
George Miller, a black man who had applied to enter the monastery.
He ignored the threat that predictably came in the mail, and stood
firm. Though George, of his own will, did not stay, he was welcome in
Abbot Charles' eyes, a brother in Christ. Abbot Charles' actions
preached that to any willing to listen, as well as to quite a few who
Abbot Francis, St. Leo's second Abbot, was born in Bavaria and fluent
in German. In World War II, when POW camps in Florida began to fill up with
German Catholics, Abbot Francis went calmly to minister to their sacramental
needs, something his facility in their language made eminently
Abbot Francis was no doubt the saintliest man to govern
the Abbey thus far, and he emulated the gentle love of his patron,
St. Francis de Sales. That gentle kindness prompted him to invite the
German prisoners to come to the Abbey for Christmas Midnight Mass in
1944. There were German voices singing "Silent Night" in its
Twelve days later, arson destroyed the prep school gym. Nothing could
be proven, but many suspected the reason. Abbot Francis continued his
ministry . He invited the POW's to come back for Easter, 1945. Two
weeks after the Easter visit, St. Mary's Science Hall was torched.
Abbot Francis did not budge.
This was in war time, the community was hardly rolling in cash, they
were building a Church and they had lost two terribly important
components of their principal livelihood, a residential prep school
for boys. Not only the buildings, but how many might fear to send
their sons back to a campus of arson? What if it were a dormitory
next time? Abbot Francis held firm. He did not protect capital or
real estate. He protected the honor of God, period.
The community is still very proud of him to this day, justly so. No
one called for his ouster, because he protected things of God. That
was a gutsy courage that none but his most implacable enemies could
possibly hate. Do genuine, fearless good and the faithful will unite
behind you in a formidable host.
Abbot Francis died when I was 13. I had the inestimable privilege of
meeting him while still in grade school and his kindness over his
last years to me, a mere child, was touching, indeed. I was a 9 year
old kid and an Abbot was sending me postcards when he traveled to
Love and prayers,